How to write your resume if you want a job at Two Sigma

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Two Sigma, the New York-based quantitative hedge fund managing more than $50bn, is hiring data scientists and machine-learning experts in droves. Your resume better be impeccable if you want to get hired there.

Claudia Perlich is a senior data scientist at Two Sigma who works closely with the hiring team. She recently participated in a live-streamed panel hosted by Google's Kaggle.

Here are the key takeaways from Perlich’s comments analyzing sample resumes that will help you get your foot in the door at Two Sigma.

Two Sigma hires various data scientists and machine-learning experts

Perlich says your resume should demonstrate a statistical, machine-learning-heavy background, a commitment to data analysis and computer skills.

“Two Sigma is a very diverse community spanning the extremely technical computer science end of things to very specific industry knowledge,” Perlich says. “Time plays a very strong role [in financial markets], which is consistent with what people do here and the skills we need.

“In finance, there’s a lot of noise in the data – you don’t have clean signals, so having good data intuition, an intuitive statistical perspective and that background, being both curious and skeptical, are important,” she says. “Evaluating how models work because there is so little signal is a key skill set across all roles.”

Don’t be afraid to rearrange the sequence

A resume that leads with an ‘Awards and Projects’ section got a thumbs-up from Perlich.

“It gives me a feeling of a very motivated person with initiative and creativity,” Perlich says. “I tend to prefer project groupings because I like to pick out projects that are relevant to the type of stuff I’m looking to hire for, and also it makes it easy to adapt your resume to the job you’re applying for, reordering to make sure the things that might be relevant for that particular role come to shine earlier.”

Go as deep as you can

For some roles, you need to indicate depth of expertise in a particular specialization or programming language.

“There are certain places where the overall impression has been made and other areas whether I’d like more depth and details,” Perlich says. “We have more roles at Two Sigma with a heavy-duty technical demand, and while there are enough [relevant data-science] terms here in the skills sections, we would be looking for more evidence of depth of coding experience.”

Still, there is room for students and career-changers

Even if you don’t have the depth of experience yet, you could still qualify for certain roles.

“I have often found it quite valuable for people transitioning, having a breadth of different experiences [is] not at all an impediment,” Perlich says. “Often having a different mindset with good communication skills brings something new to the team that up-levels everybody.

“What I do like to see from an individual contributor is not just a single [focus] but also the experiences of different things around it, a congruence centered around data,” she says. “It can play to your strengths, not for every data science job out there, but for many.”

It’s all about fit

Perlich, who started her post-academic career at IBM, was less than enthused with a resume demonstrating a straight finance path that would seemingly be a fit for a hedge fund. Even if you have a lot of financial services experience, if it is not very closely aligned to what Two Sigma does, then you may be out of luck.

“At Two Sigma, there are surprisingly diverse backgrounds that people have, and we’re not necessarily looking for very straight finance resumes – not everyone has to have that clearly laid-out background,” Perlich says. “It’s good having enough of an understanding of the business, but it almost feels a little too ‘straight-line’ when the education is totally optimized for a certain career path without too many frills outside that or around it.

“There’s a corporate culture of diversity and curiosity here: People hang out and play games or they go off to a hackathon, or they volunteer at a data clinic – a lot of these things are part of the community going on," she says. “There’s a certain personality type that fits very well into this.

“We’re all driven and ambitious too, don’t get me wrong, but there is a bit more to the personalities working here, and I would like to see that, so a resume should contain some of that to a certain extent too."

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